McDowell County is deeply rooted in North Carolina and American History and played an integral part in the NC. Gold Rush. Today, it hosts the only official NC Gold Festival each year on the first Saturday in June and welcomes people from all over the world for a day full of history, good food, family fun and, of course, GOLD!
Other sites to explore on your visit include the Historic Carson House, rich in gold history and Civil War history, and Lucky Strike Gold Mine and Campground where you can pan for your own fortune.
On June 1, 2019 we celebrated AMERICA’S FIRST GOLD RUSH at the 16th Annual North Carolina Gold Festival in Old Fort. The festival is held every year on the banks of Mill Creek at the Mountain Gateway Museum (24 Water St, Old Fort) and downtown Old Fort. Hundreds came out to participate in the Rugged Nugget 5K, Explore the Gold Exhibits from Bechtler Heritage Center, Reed Gold Mine, Gold Hill, NC and the Gold Trail, The Gold Storyteller returned to weave her golden tales. about Christopher Bechtler and the historic mint site in Rutherfordton. There was Gold and Gem Panning, Contests, Games, Face Painting, Children’s area, Live Music on 2 stages, Fantastic Food, Craft and Jewelry Vendors, Strolling Characters, NC Gold Tales Magazine was onsite to cover the event, the NC Gold Album Showcases took place and this year’s Headliner was Rick Scott, original member of the Super group “Alabama.”
The Carson House was built in 1793 and was constructed by one of the county's founding families, Colonel John Carson. The Carson family was deeply rooted in North Carolina and played prominent roles in politics and society.
The house has a rich history of famous guests, including Davy Crockett and Andrew Jackson. It served as a popular roadside inn and tavern for over a century, as it was a convenient stop for travelers between Morganton and Asheville.
Today, it serves as a top tourist destination with historic reenactments, period artifacts and three floors of exhibits.
Lucky Strike Gold and Gem Mine is a recreational mine where you can pan for gold and other gems. They are open year round and offer a variety of activities, including mining classes and techniques, gold/mineral club meetings and camping.
They have a jewelry shop onsite, a diner, an event venue, campground area and a log cabin. Lucky Strike is fun for the whole family. Come explore and spend a day or a weekend with them. Who knows, you may even strike GOLD!
McDowell County is located in Western North Carolina between Asheville and Hickory, NC with easy access along Interstate 40. Bordered to the north by the Blue Ridge Parkway, it provides access to destinations in Marion, Old Fort, Little Switzerland, Lake James and Linville Falls.